When it was suggested to Lucas Avery that he make use of the opportunities that the Business Mentoring service has to offer he wasn’t sure how beneficial this would be. He had just started working with a small but fast-growing company within the food and drinks industry. The environment was dynamic and the business had strong demand for their product in a flourishing market
When Lucas was introduced to his mentor, he was expecting someone from his sector, who could help him to resolve important issues relevant to the industry. Instead Lucas was introduced to Kathleen Brogan, MD of Mercat Tours. Kathleen had previously been a participant in the mentoring service as a mentee and as a mentor she proved to be very insightful and a reliable sounding board for Lucas.
Lucas expected his mentoring experience to be more focused on functional aspects of business, such as controlling profit and loss. However, he acknowledged these weren’t real challenges for him. Kathleen’s insights and guidance allowed him to diagnose and solve the more pressing issues that he was having difficulty with within the business. Lucas was struggling to present ideas to two colleagues with very different business styles, and the contrast between how he was interacting with these people at quite a senior level was obviously a problem that Kathleen saw early on.
She provided reassurance about how to approach boardroom discussions. Lucas highlighted that “the good thing about Kat was that she’d break things down. She allowed me to take a step back and really think about how to deal with these issues”.
Lucas said that Kathleen was adept at aiding him with personnel issues, and able to dispel any doubts he had developed due to the frantic, fast-moving nature of the business. She, in turn, was keen to emphasise that this was a reciprocal process. Kathleen had similar issues working day-to-day and the almost-equal nature of their relationship meant that she was also able to learn about the best way to respond to different colleagues and how to respond constructively to their personalities.
Kathleen was happy, but not surprised to find out about this reciprocity, as she had experienced the benefits of being mentored herself and had found the service to be effective in shaping her own business experience. “As Lucas was talking through issues, they were chiming with my own experiences in the workplace that had either worked or hadn’t worked. These situations will always come around again, so it was totally mutual.” They developed a friendship that allowed them to be honest with each other and this helped Lucas reach an understanding about how to make the most of his situation. “It was organic, we’d just meet and have a blether. It wasn’t formal or too structured.”
Kathleen highlighted that some of the discussions she had with Lucas mirrored those she had during her own experience as a mentee particularly around people management and, like Lucas, she had issues trusting herself and her instincts. Mentoring brings in an experienced individual to reassure you and allow you to make the most of your business talents. “Within three or four sessions I identified an action that I clearly had to take – I just didn’t realise that I’d been talking about it”.
Kathleen’s mentoring journey has shown the value that both mentees and mentors can get from the service. He had the talent and the knowledge, but through Kathleen’s mentorship Lucas was able to unlock this potential and achieve the outcomes he needed. Their friendship and the mutual business and personal development outcomes were unexpected benefits of the mentoring service for Kathleen and Lucas, but it encompasses what the programme is about. Kathleen and Lucas developed their management skills in ways that will be beneficial for years to come.